I watched a movie: Coco (2017)

If the plot of Coco sounds familiar to you, it’s because it was done a few years ago in another Dia de los Muertos themes film, The Book of Life (2012). Main character is faced with the decision to follow their heart or join the family business and proceeds to go on an adventure in the land of the dead. I had high hopes for The Book of Life because you don’t see many animated films featuring Mexican culture, but ultimately it missed the mark. Meanwhile, Coco resonates with its audience immediately. It’s the little things like the scene at the table where Miguel’s abuelita serves up a huge pile of tamales despite his protests. Or when she takes off her chancla, throws it at the dog, and then orders Miguel to fetch it for her.

My own family never made altars or ofrendas. There were no flying chanclas in my house. We didn’t celebrate Day of the Dead. We’ve never been big on traditional stuff like that, but it is part of our culture and it felt good to see it represented in a relatable way on the big screen. It was beautiful and authentic and real.

“I needed the audience to be able to connect with that character in a way [that] they forget they were watching animation. They forgot they were watching a skeleton. They were just seeing a soul.”

– Lee Unkrich, in a Vanity Fair article

I took my daughter to see it a few Sundays ago. That week’s Sunday Funday involved a bucket of popcorn, a giant soft pretzel, and a movie. I did not expect to like this movie as much as I did, nor did I expect it to have any lasting effect on me. And I certainly didn’t expect my 12 year old to ask me to buy it on DVD for her before we even left the theater. I am far from traditional, and my kid’s interest in movies rarely extends past the theater door. When her grandparents asked how the movie was, she said, “Very emotional. I almost cried.”

She lies. She did cry.

To my friends

I’m not a very good friend. Not to my acquaintances, not to my old or new friends, and not to my closest friends. I don’t always know how to be a good friend and mostly I fail at it.

My friends, I love you. Each and every one of you. Know that even though we don’t speak regularly, I think about you. I care about you. When you hurt, I hurt. When you’re gone, I mourn. I can’t promise I will ever be the friend you need me to be, but I love you. You matter to me. Maybe that means something.

Five Years

Yeah, it’s over now
But I can breathe somehow

I spent my morning listening to The Girl on the Train on audiobook. I had to take a break because a passage brought up memories and I just need to get them out.

Eight years ago, I met a guy in a game. We bonded over shared interests. Horror movies. Metal. A dark sense of humor. He liked to talk and I liked to listen. Our friendship grew into something more, and five years ago I met him in person. Five years ago, I ended it.

I wish I could say it ended over something simple but ultimately harmless, like maybe he’d misrepresented himself. Truth is, he was exactly what he said he was except that everything he’d said was presented as humor. He was intense and volatile. Things that seemed like temper tantrums from a distance seemed dangerous in person. He frightened me. He was only in town for two days and I’d only spent a few hours with him, but it was enough. 11 out of 15 warning signs. I did some things I didn’t want to do, and then I made sure he got to the airport and back home before breaking up with him.

He wanted to maintain a friendship when it was over. I did not, but I also didn’t want to give him a reason to find a way to hurt me. He’d spent much of our relationship talking shit about his crazy exes. I remember when he was feeling particularly paranoid, he would threaten one woman via text and blame her for making him that way. So I agreed, and we’d spend evenings talking on Skype. He’d tell me about the prostitute he fucked when he got home. He’d tell me about the haggard old slut who flirted with him (she was his age and seemed like a lovely person). He blamed one woman for his jealousy issues. He blamed his mother for his existence. He blamed me for his erectile dysfunction during his visit. Conversation would inevitably devolve into me listening to him cry and asking me why women keep fucking him over.

He actually believed he was good to me.

I wrote a short note about the breakup on my old blog after I’d ended the attempt at friendship. An Alice in Chains song, a few lyrics, and a declaration that it was over and I was okay somehow. No details. He left a nasty accusatory comment and blew up my phone with texts and phone calls, just as he’d done when I left his hotel the first day and when he got home and when I broke up with him. The difference was that I was no longer responding. I was done.

I did learn from this experience. It is possible to feel trapped by someone you’ve never even touched. It is possible for someone who lives across the country to completely isolate you from friends and family. I wasn’t a bad person. I didn’t lead him on. His malfunction is not my fault.

Most importantly, it is possible to heal and get on with life. I think I’ll continue my book now.

I read a book: The Book Thief, by Mark Zusak

Before I get into my thoughts on The Book Thief, let me share a bit about my reading habits. I have several books going at any given time. It’s not uncommon for me to come back to a book three or four times before I finally get into it. It’s also not uncommon for me to decide that it’s just not the right time for me to read a certain book and move it to my “stalled” list.

Sometimes a story never really clicks and I just give up on it. I used to hate giving up on books, but the older I get the more I refuse to give my time to things that aren’t adding value to my life. My TBR pile is huge. Ain’t nobody got time for bad entertainment.

I did not finish The Book Thief.

I know, I know. Everyone loves The Book Thief. So how did it end up on my DNF list?

This review by Goodreads user Sophia. sums it up pretty well. Death narrates the story and insists on calling the main character The Book Thief despite the fact that she really only stole a few books. And he can’t just tell the story, he has to tell you what’s going to happen before it happens. He spoils everything. Normally I don’t care about spoilers. I’ve been known to google the end of an episode of a show while I’m watching it. But I don’t need the narrator to do that for me. Aside from that, none of the characters seemed particularly dynamic. It’s a holocaust book and I didn’t feel anything. I got through about 60% of the audiobook and felt like nothing happened. I kept waiting for the story to start and finally decided I was ready for it to end.

I read a book: Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

It took me a few tries to get into this book, not because it was bad (it wasn’t), but because that just seems to be a pattern with Gillian Flynn’s work for me. The first Flynn novel I read was Gone Girl, a bestseller that was made into a movie starring Ben Affleck (and Ben Affleck’s penis) shortly after it was published. I gave Gone Girl an unfair two star rating on Goodreads because I hated nearly every character and felt like no one got what they deserved at the end. Two stars because I was angry.

But isn’t that the point? Good stories, good writing makes the reader feel things. Four star feelings. I’ll never reread Gone Girl and I’ll probably never watch the movie, but it left me wanting more of Flynn. I searched the McAllen Public Library‘s audiobook collection and found Sharp Objects.

sharp2

Sharp Objects is the story of reporter Camille Preaker, a young woman with a troubled past who goes back to her hometown to write about the murders of a couple of kids. As the title and the razor blade on the cover suggest, Camille is a cutter who has spent some time in a psych hospital. Flynn goes into great detail describing the words carved into Camille’s skin and the thoughts running through her mind as they are triggered by events. If you’ve ever struggled with depression and self-harm, you might want to pass on this one. If you find imagery of preteens engaging in adult behavior disturbing, you probably won’t enjoy this book. If you need a happy ending, move along. I’m convinced Gillian Flynn doesn’t do happy endings, and that’s fine by me. But if you like descriptive writing that conjures up disturbing imagery, you’re in for a treat.

I read a book: Fat Vampire, by Johnny B. Truant

I picked up Fat Vampire at the beginning of Christmas vacation December 2017. I’m not usually drawn to vampire books and I’d never heard of Johnny B. Truant, but the description, reviews, and price tag (free at the time) swayed me. The first few pages won me over.

reginald

We know vampires as eternally youthful, with supernatural strength and speed. This book poses a plausible explanation for this and tells you the story of newly turned Reginald Baskin, an overweight man who would never have been turned under normal circumstances. I tore through the first book in one sitting and have just started Fat Vampire 6: Survival of the Fattest. Reginald goes from being an overweight human who can’t catch a break to an eternally overweight, weak, and slow vampire who still can’t catch a break but discovers he has mental powers like no other. The series is a fast an easy read, but it’s entertaining and well written. Will Reginald end up fulfilling his destiny? I look forward to finding out.